Originally Posted by Bob Lee
REI Corporate Headquarters
REI Corporate Officers
REI 2010 sales in excess of $1.5 billion
Seems it is both a corporation and giant.
The question isn't whether REI and BC.com are inevitable or good - rather it's whether they are killing the snowsports industry. Put me firmly in the 'yes' column. If you don't think so (or care) then I'd say you're quite happy with mediocre goods and product knowledge. NTTAWWT
Bob -- WADR, your links don't show that REI is a corporation. In fact, here's a quote from one of the links:
"REI has been a trusted retailer of outdoor gear ever since and is now the nation's largest consumer co-op, continuing to return the majority of profits to our members through annual member refunds based on their purchases."
Both "corporation" and "cooperative" are legal constructs -- with tax and other regulatory implications. It not possible to tell from the size or gleam of an enterprise's headquarters, or the fact that they use the word "corporate" on their website, which one they are. In any case, REI's legal structure probably is irrelevant to the discussion of whether it squeezes out small retailers.
OTOH, REI's size may be relevant, regardless of its legal structure. However, as has been pointed out, REI are not the only ones: Eddie Bauer, BC, HTO (which may be regional), to name a few.
I'm a member of REI and a "preferred customer" at HTO, and I like to shop at both. They have great deals and often a large selection on winter coats, snow boots for kids, winter gloves, hiking boots, etc. I would never buy skis or ski boots from either place, though. Instead, I go to the small ski shops -- because they have the expertise. Similarly, I buy my / my kid's mountain bikes at bike stores (City Bikes) and my running shoes at running stores (Georgetown Running Co.) even though both are sold at REI and HTO -- because the small stores have more expertise in these sports and products.
So, for me, there's a place for both kinds of stores. Whether REI and its ilk are "killing" the small stores is a researchable question, but simply asserting it doesn't make it so.